Andin: two Jewish immigrants’ entrepreneurial triumph

“Much of the success of Andin has come from applying the business strategies presented in The Diamond Cutter,” states the synopsis of Geshe Michael Roach’s bestseller, which recounts Geshe Michael’s time at “Andin International Diamond Corporation.” Such company never existed. Andin International Inc., the real Andin, was not a “diamond corporation” but a jewelry manufacturer and wholesaler that supplied large retailers like JC Penney and Macy’s.

Andin was founded in New York in February 1981 by Ofer and Aya Azrielant, an immigrant married couple from Israel, with the husband as its chairman and CEO, and the wife as president and chief designer. Theirs is an inspiring story of entrepreneurial triumph by immigrants who dared to pursue the American Dream and made it real. Before emigrating from the land of milk and honey to the land of burgers and fries, the Azrielants had been aspiring filmmakers until they realized that Jews controlled and dominated the film industry in Israel. As reported in a 1998 JCK article:

After completing her studies in fine arts, literature and film making, [Aya] Azrielant met her future husband Ofer, also a documentary filmmaker in Israel. During the mid-’70s, the young couple took a calculated risk: they opened a chain of jewelry stores in Israel with no previous experience in either jewelry or retailing. The business prospered. By 1981, they had moved to New York and established Andin International, which grew into one of the largest private label jewelry companies in the United States in less than a decade.

The enterprising Azrielants, having prospered in their homeland, without the help of Geshe Michael or his “karmic principles”, brought their business acumen and experience to New York, and quickly found success through their business strategies, work ethics, passion and creativity. A 1999 CNN article noted:

The Israeli couple has built Andin, their jewelry company, into a nine-figure business by focusing on middle American tastes and mass merchandise. The Azrielants design and manufacture private label jewelry for department stores, like Macy’s, and chain shops, including Zales.
Andin aims for ‘the very basic middle America that wants a nice piece of jewelry’… The prices are kept basic, too — typically within the $100 to $200 retail range.
Work is not work. It’s a way of lifeIt’s my adrenaline,” she said. “Today it’s jewelry, tomorrow it could be handbags, perfume, you name it. I love the creativity of it. I love the possibilities of creating something from nothing.”

A 2005 Haaretz article stated, “The key to its winning formula was the focus on a target audience: the middle class. Andin’s jewelry was made of gold and inlaid with diamonds, but at prices to suit every pocketbook.”

From the old Andin homepage, archived in 10/1999, it does not appear that these no-nonsense Israeli Jews would have a use for Geshe Michael’s karmic principles:

100% Real Cubic Zirconia. Accept No Imitations.

Our success is built on three principles: our jewelry is conceived with fashion in mind, engineered with value in mind, and executed with quality in mind… Our quality is apparent, as well as inherent. By this we mean that our jewelry gives the most look for the money. Our quarter carat Total Weight rings, for example, look so impressive due to the large spread, that they are sometimes mistaken for half carats.
Andin believes that if a product isn’t the highest quality, it isn’t worth selling. For us, quality is an absolute. This means that every ring retailing for $100 is crafted with the same care as one retailing for $1,000… We take great care in designing and crafting our jewelry and hope that you [Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, etc.] enjoy selling as much as we enjoyed creating it.

The Azrielants’ success is spectacular, but not particularly unique among Jewish immigrants. It can be argued that the secrets to financial wealth are in the Talmud, not the Diamond Sutra, for the only wealthy Tibetan is Richard Gere.

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Related post: Karmic management at work

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